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Pirates Home Opener Excites Fans and Downtown Businesses

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With the Pittsburgh Pirates expected to be a contender on the field this year, downtown establishments are hoping for similar excitement in terms of business revenue as the baseball home opener nears.


average number of fans at a PNC Park home opener


average price for a Pirates ticket in 2024


guest rooms at Renaissance Hotel


parking spots available at Fort Duquesne & Sixth Garage


LED lights on the Roberto Clemente Bridge


Pirates home games scheduled for 2024

The Pittsburgh Pirates will open their 2024 home schedule at PNC Park against the Baltimore Orioles on Friday, April 5. After some recent seasons have ended in disappointment, the Bucs are on the rise led by exciting young players like Ke’Bryan Hayes, Oneil Cruz and Mitch Keller.

With the team expected to contend on the field this year – and with PNC Park recently named the No. 1 ballpark in MLB by USA Today – downtown establishments are hoping for similar excitement in terms of business, starting with that home opener. Downtown Pittsburgh looks to gain business from the Pittsburgh Pirates’ home opener from restaurant patrons and hotel guests to fans using its parking garages and transportation services.

“We’re looking forward to having the Pirates back in town,” said Alex Soller, Communications and Public Relations Manager at VisitPITTSBURGH. “With warmer weather upon us, baseball fans will travel from near and far to PNC Park, which again has been recognized as one of the best ballparks in the nation. Beyond the ballpark, you’re bound to see fans in their gear – no matter the team – exploring downtown all summer long.”

Since PNC Park opened for the 2001 Pirates season, the home opener has been a sellout 18 out of a possible 21 times. Excluding the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021, a Pirates home opener at PNC Park has averaged 37,635 fans. In total, 798,090 fans have walked through the gates of PNC Park for a home opener over the course of its 23-year history.

With the 2024 opener expected to be a standing-room-only sellout as well, fans will be pouring into the North Shore from all across the city, including downtown. Those fans can take the picturesque walk to PNC Park across the Roberto Clemente Bridge, which closes for vehicle traffic and opens for pedestrian use before and after each Pirates game. Formerly known as the Sixth Street Bridge, the iconic bridge is now open after nearly two years under construction.

“Having the bridge open again and to have that connectivity back to the Downtown corridor and to be able to have our fans walk across the bridge will enhance the [home opener] experience,” said Pirates President Travis Williams in an April 4 Trib Live article.

Whether crossing it before or after the game or admiring it from your stadium seat, the Clemente Bridge is integral to the PNC Park experience. This year, it comes with a special new twist.

Along with the city’s two other sister bridges – Seventh Street (Warhol) and Ninth Street (Rachel Carson) – the Clemente Bridge lights up each night with over 200,000 LED lights in various colors, including black and gold when Pittsburgh sports teams take the national stage. The lighting system includes 2,628 feet of linear video fixtures on the bridges’ suspenders, 192 rounded fixtures on the suspension chain pins, 132 spotlight fixtures on the towers and piers, and 12 custom replica fixtures atop the pylons.

The city and Allegheny County hope that the $6 million programmable lighting systems become a major attraction – for sports fans, tourists and Pittsburghers alike.

“It’s incredible,” Todd Wilson, an executive at Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation, remarked about the lighting systems in an October 2023 Pittsburgh Union Progress article. “It brings so much light and vibrancy to Downtown Pittsburgh.”

From parking garages to transportation services, companies depend on high-traffic events like the home opener to bring in a major portion of revenue. Drivers may prefer parking downtown to avoid post-game bottlenecks on the north Shore and tend to fill up the Fort Duquesne & Sixth Garage, located in the heart of Pittsburgh’s Cultural District and right across the Allegheny River from PNC Park. The garage holds 920 vehicles and is open 24/7 to accommodate sporting events, shows at the Byham Theater and other events downtown or at Point State Park. An alternative option for drivers is the Smithfield-Liberty Garage between Smithfield Street and Liberty Avenue – also just a short walk from PNC Park.

You might also find fans taking the ‘T,’ Pittsburgh’s light rail system. Fans heading to the game from downtown can ride for free from the First Avenue Station, located near the First Avenue Garage, to Allegheny Station on the North Shore. From there, it’s just a short walk over to the stadium.

The start of Pirates season represents an exciting time for restaurants and bars downtown. Fans spending time in the city before and after games are welcomed by many spots on and around Sixth Street. From traditional American options like Braddock’s Rebellion and Redbeard’s on Sixth to more eclectic destinations like täkō and Alihan’s Mediterranean Cuisine, there’s no shortage of places to grab a bite before the action. And for fans looking to keep the fun going after a Pirates win, Olive or Twist and Con Alma both frequently feature live music. For lodging, the historic Renaissance Hotel is right across the Clemente Bridge, making it an ideal place to stay downtown for a Pirates game. With 300 guest rooms available, this luxury hotel includes two on-site restaurants and is steps away from downtown’s Benedum Center, August Wilson Center and David L. Lawrence Convention Center. The Courtyard by Marriott Pittsburgh Downtown and the Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown also serve baseball fans catching a series at PNC.

Regardless of where you eat, sleep, or park on opening day – it’s sure to have a positive effect on vibrancy in downtown Pittsburgh!

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